26 April 2007

SNP Pledge To Take Fishing Industry Into Calmer Waters And Better Times


By backing the SNP on May 3rd, Scotland can elect Scotland's first ever pro-fishing Government and pro-fishing First Minister claimed SNP Fisheries Spokesperson Richard Lochhead today.

Speaking during a visit to Peterhead today, Mr Lochhead announced a 15 point action plan for fishing and promised that an SNP Government would deliver a new era for Scotland's fishing communities.

"Scotland has the opportunity to elect Scotland's first ever pro-fishing Government and pro-fishing First Minister by backing the SNP and Alex Salmond.

"An SNP Government will take our fishing communities into calmer waters and better times. We will champion one of our most valued traditional industries and provide a voice for our fishermen within the UK and Europe.

"Following decades of betrayals by successive Tory and Labour Government in London, our fishing communities expected better from the first eight years of devolution but the Labour-Lib Dem Government in Scotland abandoned our fishing communities and allowed cut after cut to be imposed on one of our vital industries.

"Scotland has a world class fishing industry that continues to sustain tens of thousands of jobs at sea and onshore in processing and around our harbours. The sector generates billions of pounds for the economy. It deserves better and to be treated as a national priority.

"The SNP will work to deliver stability and certainty for the industry in place of the turmoil and uncertainty of previous years. Our aim is to create optimism and a sustainable fishery backed by sound conservation.

"Scotland has one quarter of Europe's seas and many plentiful stocks yet our fishing communities are left with an ageing fleet and skills shortages. Our action plan will arrest the industry's decline and begin to reverse the damage inflicted on the sector.

"The SNP will also begin the journey towards bringing control of our seas back to Scotland and removing the dead hand of the Common Fisheries Policy."

· In Government, the SNP's First Minister will seek an early meeting with the UK Government to seek the lead role in the EU fisheries negotiations. With over two thirds of the UK industry based in Scotland, the Scottish Minister should be designated official lead of the UK delegation.

· Likewise, we will meet with the European Commission to discuss the impact of the CFP on Scotland. We will also work with our partners to enlist support for the repatriation of fisheries responsibilities to member states.

· Industry representatives will be seconded to ministerial teams participating in international negotiations to ensure that fishermen are listened to and are able to provide expert advice.

· Fishing entitlement will be allocated only to active fishermen and coastal communities with historical rights.

· The SNP opposes the introduction of Individual Transferable Quotas (ITQS) that would effectively privatise Scotland's historical fishing rights.

· The essential role of the on-shore sector including the scores of companies that congregate around Scotland's harbours will be recognised and offered tailored support.

· A strategy for the development and upgrading of Scotland's harbours will be produced.

· Scotland 's world class fisheries science will be supported and enhanced. The fishing industry and other interested organisations will be provided with the opportunity to influence the research agenda. Empirical knowledge should receive adequate credence in developing management plans for sustainability

· The SNP will discuss with the industry the potential for a new entrants scheme for the industry to help attract the next generation of skippers and deckhands

· The interest of our fishing communities will be taken into account during negotiations over forthcoming marine legislation to ensure that a balance in struck between competing economic and environmental interest.

· the SNP will establish a Convention on the Future of Scotland's Fishing Communities to develop long term management plans to secure the sustainability of stocks of greatest importance to Scotland and to reach a consensus on the way forward.

· A Development Plan for the Fish Processing sector and seafood companies will be published.

· We will ensure that locally caught and processed fish products play a central role in our local food and healthy eating agendas and that public procurement budgets are used to further this aim.

· The marketing of fish will be made a priority and Seafood Scotland strengthened. The role of the new food promotion body along the lines of Ireland's Bord Bia proposed by the SNP will be discussed with the industry.

· The burden of overly complex regulation on the industry will be tackled.

Stewart Stevenson
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